Tuesday, June 10, 2014


You probably know that Eric Cantor lost his primary to a tea party challenger named Dave Brat. Brat is an economis professor at Randolph-Macon College; you may have read that one of his papers is titled "An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand." A January National Review profile of Brat tells us a bit more:
[Brat] chairs the department of economics and business at Randolph-Macon College and heads its BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program. The funding for the program came from John Allison, the former CEO of BB&T (a financial-services company) who now heads the Cato Institute. The two share an affinity for Ayn Rand: Allison is a major supporter of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Brat co-authored a paper titled "An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand." Brat says that while he isn't a Randian, he has been influenced by Atlas Shrugged and appreciates Rand's case for human freedom and free markets.
Well, he'd better appreciate Ayn Rand, because the BB&T Moral Foundations of Capitalism program is designed to push her work and her philosophy. In fact, the program -- at Randolph-Macon and quite a few other institutions -- is an open campaign of proselytization for her worldview as much as it is for capitalism.

John Allison explained this in 2012:
... About twelve years ago we [at BB&T] re-examined our charitable giving and realized that our contributions to universities were not typically being used in our shareholders' best interest. At the same time, we were studying the question of why the United States had moved from the land of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to the "redistributive state." We became convinced that the reason for this transformation was that the Left had taken over the universities and educated future leaders, including teachers, in statist/collectivist ideas.

A related question occurred to us. Why do free-market principles, which by any objective analysis have won the intellectual argument, continue to be dismissed by most intellectuals? We concluded that the free market economic arguments were routinely defeated by moral arguments, and those were primarily focused on the distribution of wealth.

Furthermore, BB&T has used the fundamental ethics expressed in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism in very successfully growing our business, and we wanted Rand's ideas to be heard in the academic community....

Based on these factors, BB&T has sponsored 68 programs on the Moral Foundations of Capitalism at most of the major universities in our operating area, which includes the mid-Atlantic and southeastern states.

The programs vary from university to university based on the focus of the professors involved. However, most of the programs have similar core components. Typically, Atlas Shrugged is included in the reading list....

Approximately 25,000 students participate in some aspect of the BB&T program each year. Thousands report a life-changing experience. Many indicate the program is the first time they have heard capitalism defended from an ethical perspective....

I am a strong advocate of the privatization of education through tax credits or voucher systems. However, even if all public schools were private, where would the schools find the good teachers who understand the principles underlying a free society, given our current university education system? I do not believe that efficiency improvements or technological changes matter much unless students can be taught to think independently, critically, and with the right philosophical premises. That is the underlying goal of these programs.
Does this talk remind you of anything? It reminds me of the Powell memo -- Lewis Powell's 1971 memo to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which warned that capitalists were losing the war of ideas and a campaign needed to be mounted to reverse these losses:
No thoughtful person can question that the American economic system is under broad attack. This varies in scope, intensity, in the techniques employed, and in the level of visibility.

There always have been some who opposed the American system, and preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism). Also, there always have been critics of the system, whose criticism has been wholesome and constructive so long as the objective was to improve rather than to subvert or destroy.

But what now concerns us is quite new in the history of America. We are not dealing with sporadic or isolated attacks from a relatively few extremists or even from the minority socialist cadre. Rather, the assault on the enterprise system is broadly based and consistently pursued. It is gaining momentum and converts....
The people who read the Powell memo in 1971 ultimately won -- we've been living in their world ever since the Reagan presidency. But they're still fighting. They're still spreading Randianism far and wide. Dave Brat is one of their propagandists, and tonight he just toppled a giant from the last wave of Republican radicals, who's now, cearly, not deemed radical -- or Randian -- enough.


M. Bouffant said...

"An Analysis of the Moral Foundations in Ayn Rand."
Another Jonah Goldberg. He was tired of people saying that Ayn Rand had the morals of a hyena, & decided to refute all those liberal liars.

Pops said...

When I was a teen back in the 1950's I was also intrigued by Ayn Rand also. Then I grew up. These big Randian's pick and choose from her the way Evangelicals pick and choose from whatever Bible they are reading this month. You never heat these lame people say "Yea I really loved Ayn's philosophy of being pro abortion.(Not just Pro-choice but, as she emphasized Pro- Abortion)Also they must surely agree with Rand and her belief that Ronald Reagan was the Ant- Christ. Oh not so much I guess. Assholes.

Victor said...

Quite frankly, I'm shocked!

A "Young Gun," shot-down in his early middle age.

Brat will (most probably) be worse than this Cantor, brat!

This is what happens when you campaign more for the Speaker job, than you current Congressional job.

But don't cry for Cantor.

He'll get a massively hefty bump in salary working as some lobbying firm, with great perks and benefits..

Then, there will probably be corporate boards he can sit on, and collect a nice salary.

Then, the Wingnut Welfare Rubber-chicken lectures - interesting to see how they handle THIS big a primary loser, though.

ALL, while getting his Congressional pension.

Yeah, sucks to be him - he LOST.

Now, begins his "Fall Up!"

Victor said...

And more about Rand:
She was an Atheist, with sexual appetites and practices that were not deemed the norm for a woman back then.

Oh, and she was such an Objectivist herself, that she took SS and Medicare in her old age.

tominwv said...

Furthermore, BB&T has used the fundamental ethics expressed in Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism in very successfully growing our business, and we wanted Rand's ideas to be heard in the academic community....

This is why they are called the Biggest Bastards in Town. Their customer service philosophy is one of predator and prey. You are not a customer but part of a revenue stream to be tapped at every opportunity.